#770: 152L Biotope Aquascape Autumn arrives in the Minnehaha Creek, tributary of the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay watershed

Nicholas Kinser Sterling, United States

Awards and Comments

Second Place
General Impression/Faithful Reproduction of Biotope:
This is a beautiful aquarium that is wonderfully aquascaped but possibly too scaped to be a true snapshot of the habitat. There are also other species of animals that could have been safely included in the community. Maybe some dace? Approximately 32 species of Cypriniformes in the watershed with a few that are probably there. Maybe blacknose dace? And there is some question as to the authenticity of Etheostoma caeruleum as a natural species in the lower Potomac (see below).

Accuracy of Plants and Animals for Biotope:
Etheostoma caeruleum - natural range is described in multiple sources as "Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from southern Ontario and western New York to Minnesota and south to northern Alabama and Arkansas. Isolated populations in southwestern Mississippi and eastern Louisiana and in upper Potomac River drainage (Atlantic Slope) West Virginia." While is it very possible (probable) that the range of the darter has expanded into the lower Potomac watershed I was not able to find a reference to even the upper Potomac population as being natural. There are other darter species in the lower Potomac drainage that would (hopefully) still be found in that creek.

Accuracy of Hardscape:
The material choices are fine but the layout seems to defy the natural affects of strong periodic currents and gravity.

The aquarium condition is pristine and the livestock in excellent condition.
— Ted Judy

Aquascape Details

Dimensions 91 × 46 × 43 cm
Title Autumn arrives in the Minnehaha Creek, tributary of the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay watershed
Volume 152L
Background Expanding foam covered in a mixture of peat, crushed aquatic soil substrate and creek sand.
Lighting Fluval 2.0 LED light
Filtration Canister filter with plumbing incorporated into the background to be invisible
Plants NA
Animals Gambusia holbrooki, Etheostoma caeruleum
Materials Locally collected river stone, pebbles, sand, wood, various fall leaves and branches. Spider wood to mimic roots. Substrate is native creek sand and decomposed organics.
Additional Information This aquascape is inspired by the Minnehaha Creek, a small 1.5 mile long creek that starts in Bethesda, MD and reaches the Potomac river in Glen Echo, MD. Along its short course it runs through Glen Echo Park, a national park that is home to the Glen Echo Park Aquarium and where the tank is now on permanent display. This creek is very rocky, with erosion exposing tree roots around the rocks on the sides of the bank. In autumn the creek fills with branches and fallen leaves after seasonal storms. The stone, sand, wood and botanicals were collected in the area but not in the creek itself to avoid collection on NPS land. Spider wood roots were used to mimic the tree roots growing in the area. The fish in the tank were not collected in the Minnehaha either, but in a nearby creek. These species are common in the Potomac River as well as all tributaries upstream of Washington DC.
This tank is meant to represent the beauty of the Minnehaha in the fall and anchor it in the minds of the guests that visit the public aquarium located mere steps away, but can also be any small stream or creek in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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